In its first meeting with newly elected members, the Panjab University (PU) Syndicate decided to defer the amendment of service rules in the PU Calendar according to recommendations made by a committee formed in 2018 to integrate certain rules mandated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013.
Members of the syndicate stated that more deliberation was needed before amending the service rules with specific tenets of the sexual harassment policy. “A few members rightfully raised the point that certain sections of the policy were raised out of context and it was recommended they be used to alter service rules. However, service rules are a very serious matter and so is the sexual harassment policy, so we can’t make such arbitrary changes in the PU service rules,” said Navdeep Goyal, Chairperson of the Department of Physics and a syndicate member.
The recommendations made by the committee formed in 2018 will now be deliberated upon further by another group of professors before taking any decision on amending service rules. The 2018 committee which consisted of Dean University Instruction, Shankarji Jha, Professor Emiritus, Pam Rajput and PU Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) chairperson , Professor Manvinder Kaur, had highlighted certain policies of PU CASH as well as the ways in which sexual harassment is defined.
The committee also lifted sections from the 2013 Sexual Harassment at workplace Act and asked for those sections to be included in service rules. This recommendation was criticised by a few PU professors, since its focus on specific sections of the act was deemed arbitrary. Furthermore, the Act needs to be integrated into the university’s administration in its entirety according to its rules.
Beyond deferring the decision to amend service rules, the syndicate also decided to take up the issue of ending the secretariat pay for non teaching staff at the varsity. Citing an order by the Punjab government, the university’s Board of Finance had announced that non teaching staff at the university will not be able to avail secretariat pay any more, a provision given to them since the 1970’s.
It was decided that more deliberations will be made on the issue and the university will make an appeal to the Punjab government to revoke its decision. “Also, a few members wanted to go over the notes made by a judicial committee formed to look into matters of non teaching staff before the decision was made by the government,” said DPS Randhawa, syndicate member and President of the Punjab and Haryana Bar council.
Randhawa claimed that he himself was part of the committee which deliberates matters pertaining to non teaching staff. “Syndicate members demanded that the proceedings of that committee be made available to all so that the context in which the decision was made is clear to them. I for one am in support of the non teaching staff, who are the backbone of any university and need to be compensated adequately,” added Randhawa.
The syndicate also extended professor Nandita Singh’s appointment as Dean of International Affairs for a period of one year, and professor Deepti Gupta’ appointment as Dean of Alumni Relations until the next syndicate.
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